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How James Brown Gained Kaunda a Youthful Vote

It was December 1970 and American singer James Brown had just visited Zambia, where he performed two concerts. The Godfather of Soul, as Brown was known, wasn’t just a cultural phenomenon in the southern African nation. He was central to a largely forgotten but tumultuous chapter in U.S.-Zambia relations that saw the two countries pull apart — their leaders snubbing each other — before rebuilding bridges that rested on a musical bond. In October 1970, Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first post-independence president, was scheduled to meet with U.S. President Richard Nixon in Washington alongside other African leaders, but the White House postponed the meeting. Slighted, Kaunda refused to meet Nixon at the reassigned time. But two months later, Kaunda, a longtime supporter of the American civil rights movement, made sure to pose with Brown during the singer’s tour of the country.